• Killed my father’s
pet parrot in its cage with a broom handle in our house
on stilts in the La Salina lakeside camp. Seems I was about
3 years old.
• Walking to kindergarten in the new La Salina staff
school by crossing the main highway between Hollywood and
Las Cupolas. There was a stairway over some pipelines at
the fence between the camp and the road.
• Piñatas at the birthday parties.
• Watching the “octopus” pumping unit
lines going back and forth at the La Salina golf course
• Eating a great breakfast consisting of fried eggs,
platanos and goat’s cheese chased down with a cold
glass of Klim milk.
• Using my Mother’s strainer to dip minnows
out of the roadside ditches in the Hollywood camp after
a heavy downpour.
• Having squirter fights.
• Placing “poppers” under the lip of our
dog and watching him shake his head when they Popped.
• Placing lemon juice in my dog’s mouth and
watching him stick out his tongue and shake his head.
• Getting a spanking at least once a day.
• Playing Cowboy and Indians all over the camp.
• Having a real cap-gun as opposed to using your fingers
or a stick and no longer having to make those gun noises
ie: Keeechhhh, Keeechhh.
• Making my first bomb by screwing a roll of caps
between two bolts and dropping them onto the road.
• Eating half-ripe mangos.
• Eating anything the birds ate – plus.
• Getting a case of runs at least once a month.
• Walking on the blistering asphalt barefooted during
noontime on a dare.
• Frying an egg on your dads black company car hood
• Getting burrs stuck in your feet – especially
right behind your toes and in your hands as you pulled them
• Getting nails stuck in your bare feet and then tetanus
shots with dull needles.
• Running around the camp late at night in your underwear
when no one was out.
• Killing everything that moved or attempted to.
• Stealing your Dad’s booze.
• Buying your Dad’s booze at the club at age
• Swimming at the club at night in the nude.
• Slingshot fights with the native boys.
• Watching the packs of stray dogs in heat. A regular
event and large component of early childhood sex education.
• Watching the mother’s try to run off the stray
dogs in heat out on their front yards so their youngsters
would not get any strange ideas.
• Dry season and the heat, death of cattle, buzzards,
• Rainy season, heat, humidity, death of cattle, buzzards,
smells – good and bad.
• The black tornado of buzzards over the Maracaibo
• Buzzards all the time.
• Orchids of all kinds
• Dwarf bananas hanging in the carport.
• Snakes of all kinds and most deadly.
• “Bushing” the girls when they came out
of their showers in the ground-level homes.
• Going home when the street lights came on.
• Playing kick-ball in the first through 6th grades.
• Playing “Death” dodge ball.
• Playing kick-the-can at night.
• Not playing because of fear of Polio.
• Great swimming pools.
• Swatting enormous termites and ants when they swarmed
after the rains.
• Running over frogs by the thousands when they came
out onto the warm back roads after the rains – it
made a neat popping sound.
• Going fishing out on the lake using the work-boats
and always catching great fish of all kinds.
• Making and throwing Molotoff Cocktails.
• Listening the music from the “native”
camps late at night.
• Crossing the lake on the Ferries.
• Stopping to be searched at the alcabalas.
• Spending great early years growing up with a bunch
of great kids.
• Outdoor movies in all weather conditions.
• Flit guns and DDT – stops all insects dead
• Making out with your childhood girl friends.
• Always having a dog as a pet and it’s ticks,
burrs and oil. Taught to hunt lizards and iguana –
• Having a much younger sister.
• Getting vaccinated for everything.
• Getting shots for everything.
• Extremely poor natives living off the jungle yet
generous and having great pride.
• Extremely poorer, dirty Andian Indian children standing
at the roadsides with their hands out asking for a locha.
• The Guardia Nacional with Mausers slung over their
shoulders with their hands out asking for a “gift”.
• Listening to the “Hit Parade” on the
Voice of America.
• Listening to popular music from a radio station
from Miami while sitting up on the dike in Tia Juana.
• Watching the Catatumbo Lights across the lake late
at night from the Tia Juana dike.
• Drinking Cuba Libres as often as possible.
• Drinking any kind of rum, but if you had class,
then it was Cacique.
• Drinking cervezas any time – Polar was my
• Never smoking Venezuelan cigarettes – they
• Air-conditioning – at last!!
• Dance parties under the houses on stilts.
• Baked Red Snapper with scalloped potatoes and stewed
• Meatloaf almost all the time.
• Tenderizing steaks using fresh crushed Papaya.
• No cold water ever for taking a shower or washing.
• No tubs to bathe in until you went to the States
on vacation—then cold tap water and long tub baths.
• Real hamburgers and Fountain Cokes in the States.
• TV in the States and Flash Gordon
• The first TV in Tia Juana at Franca Vettor’s
home in Tia Juana – Sammy Davis in Caracas –
lots of “snow”.
• Legitimately going to a “No Apta” movie
for the first time.
• Dating for the first time – your childhood
friends? Strange because you grew up with them and they
were like family.
• Blowouts and oil droplets falling into the camp.
• Death of a father of a childhood friend from a work
accident – too often.
• Democracy – maybe.
• Watching Japanese sugar-ants climb the wall by the
bed during siesta time.
• Finding grooved ant trails cut in the asphalt roads
by army ants on old Shell exploratory roads behind Lagunillas.
• Cattle covered with lumps containing tick colonies.
• Cattle guards at the entrances and exits to the
camp to keep the stray cattle out of the camps.
• Dead cattle beside the roads during the long dry
• The headlights of the jeep reflecting millions of
emerald green glistening eyes of “Trap-Door”
spiders in the front yard after the rains came.
• The flashing blue, green and red feathers of parrots
as they flew overhead in large flocks behind Lagunillas.
• Piloting the work launches on Sundays on the way
to distant oil rigs to fish all day.
• Santa Clause arriving by helicopter.
• Trinidad Steel Drum bands walking the camp streets
and playing during Christmas.
• The smell of the coming rains of rainy season.
That’s how I remember it…..